Reading the Wild Weather
Story Books for Kids
There’s a riotous energy this time of year: the mad leafing out of plants and trees, crazy bird song at dawn, unruly swarms of biting insects, the palpable freedom of school letting out for summer, and wild weather that can change from snow squalls to thunderstorms within hours. Those first spring storms are greeted with a mixture of excitement and nervousness in our home. Thunder and lightning, rain and wind, are full of edgy juxtapositions, scary and beautiful, exciting and terrifying, exquisite and destructive.
Nature’s power is clearly evident in weather phenomena, and often seems mysterious. But many weather events can be explained in scientific terms, and when packaged with pictures into the safe covers of a book, help kids understand the wild weather that impacts our lives. Here’s a collection of kids’ books, mostly about riotous forms of stormy weather. I’ve included a short selection of nonfiction titles and a few picture books, starting with brand new work by award wining children’s book creator, Arthur Geisert…
Thunderstorm (Enchanted Lion Books, 2013) is a masterpiece of highly intensive work which took Geisert several years to complete. Made by etching onto copper plates and then hand colored, he literally created a mammoth picture story, stretching over 40 feet long in one continuous illustration. The picture follows a thunderstorm from its development and path across mid-western farmland to the destruction it leaves behind and the immediate rebuilding process. It begins on the back cover of the book and ends on the very last page. The illustration shows how the storm affects sky, humans, animals, buildings, landscape, and the natural elements of rain and wind with such delicate detail, readers will want to return to its pages again and again for more discoveries. Cut away views show interiors of homes, barns, trees, dens, and burrows, and with the only text being the actual passage of time, the book draws the reader into a compelling, visual experience of a thunderstorm, inside and out. This is sophisticated artistry at its best.
Seymour Simon is an award winning children’s science author who has written nearly 300 books on dozens of different topics. He is one of my go-to authors for science books for young kids. Concise text, color photographs, and easy to read diagrams characterize this series of books that deal with severe weather.
- Hurricanes HarperCollins, 2007
- Lightning HarperCollins, 2006
- Storms HarperCollins, 1992
- Weather HarperCollins, 2001
- Tornadoes HarperCollins, 2006
Gail Gibbons is a writer and illustrator who has created nearly 200 nonfiction books for kids. Her characteristic style combines kid friendly illustrations with well-researched and accurate information. She has written on many different science topics, including wild weather. She is another one of my go-to authors for children’s nonfiction, and I highly recommended her books.
- Hurricanes! Holiday House, 2009
- Tornadoes! Holiday House, 2009
- Weather Words and What They Mean, Holiday House, 1990
- Weather Forecasting Aladdin, 1987
Let’s Read And Find Out is a series of books aimed at introducing young children to basic science concepts. Colorful illustrations help transmit the information which is built on a step-by-step method. Includes hands-on activities.
- Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll HarperCollins, 1999
- Tornado Alert (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) HarperCollins, 1990
The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting (Williamson Kids Can! Series) written by Mark Breen and Kathleen Friestad, illustrated by Michael Kline. Published by Ideals, 2008. A handbook for young weather-watchers, full of experiments, observations, and activities.
Hurricane by David Wiesner. Published by Clarion Books, 1990. A boy and his family weather a hurricane from the safety of their home and use the big elm that falls for their imaginative games.
Old Thunder and Miss Raney written by Sharon Darrow, illustrated by Kathryn Brown. Published by DK Publishing, 2000. Determined to get home to make biscuits for the county fair, Miss Raney and her old horse get caught in a twister. Her lightning-rise biscuits win an unexpected prize, and Old Thunder proves he’s fast as a whirlwind.
Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long. Published by Philomel, 2011. Otis the red tractor braves a tornado and risks danger to save the ornery Mr. Bull.
Thunder-Boomer! written by Shutta Crum, illustrated by Carol Thompson. Published by Clarion Books, 2009. A girl, and her brother and mother ride out a summer storm on their mid-western farm.
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco. Published by Philomel, 1990. A grandmother helps her granddaughter overcome her fear of thunderstorms while baking a special cake.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Related Post: HFVS Weather Episode with Guest DJ, Alison Faith Levy (Radio Show/Podcast)]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.